Zero Motorcycles unveils two rapid-charging electric motorcycles to fend off
rivals such as Harley-Davidson
25 Feb 2019 Robert Ferris
[images / Zero Motorcycles
Zero Motorcycles unveils new SR/F model
video flash dated
- Zero Motorcycles unveiled its SR/F electric motorcycle, with more power
and a new rapid charging system.
- The company is privately-held and based in California.
Electric motorcycle manufacturer Zero Motorcycles unveiled two new models on
Monday, the latest step in its quest to challenge gas-burning bikes and fend
off competition in the small but growing segment.
The California company is releasing its newest bike just months after
American heavyweight motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson unveiled its LiveWire
motorcycle in November. Other established bike manufacturers intend to
produce electric motorcycles, but Zero has something of a head start. It
specializes in electric motorcycles and has been making them since 2006.
"We sell more full-size premium electric motorcycles than all our
competitors combined," said Zero Motorcycles CEO Sam Paschel, at a launch
event in New York on Monday. The Zero SR/F is a brand new product "from the
ground up," he said.
The bike comes in two trims, a standard model starting at $18,995 and a
premium model available starting at $20,995.
That means Zero's higher-end version is about $10,000 cheaper than the
Harley-Davidson LiveWire, a new electric bike the venerable motorcycle
company hopes will help it attract new riders, including those who are
excited about the potential for electric powertrains. The LiveWire's price
hovers around $30,000, which means it could need to come down if
Harley-Davidson wants to compete with an upstart like Zero.
The Zero SR/F will feature a brand new battery motor and rapid charging
system. The SR/F has 140 pound-foot of torque and "unbelievable
acceleration," Pashel said. It has a top speed of 124 miles per hour and
over 100 horsepower. The bike can drive up to 200 miles in the city with its
largest available battery, about the same as Zero's current motorcycles. It
can be charged to nearly full capacity in about an hour.
The company said the motorcycle, which will begin shipping in April, will
connect to the cloud and comes with an integrated mobile app.
"I certainly applaud Harley's efforts to attract new riders with electric
bikes, which should appeal to a younger, urban dwelling demographic," said
Raymond James analyst Joe Altobello. "That said, it will likely take time to
really move the needle for them given the relatively small size of the
market, the potential improvements in battery life, and the relatively high
price point, with LiveWire starting at nearly $30,000."
Rising sales of all electric vehicles indicates there is a future for a
plug-in motorcycle, Pashel said.
"From 2008 to 2010, over that three year period, the total number of plug-in
vehicles of all types sold in the United States, were under 5,000 units,"
Paschel said, speaking to a room full of reporters at the vehicle launch.
"Now if you compare that with last year, there were over 300,000 plug-in
vehicles of all types sold in the United States. Your presence here
indicates that the idea of electrification has gone from something of a
novelty to something that has a lot of excitement around it."
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Inside the Creation of Zero's All-New Electric Motorcycle
02.25.19 Alex Davies
[images / Zero Motorcycles
The all-new SR/F is the result of a top-to-bottom rethinking of Zero's
existing bikes, designed to deliver more power, more range, and more fun
Rather than trying to disguise the SR/F as a conventional motorcycle, Zero's
design team left the 14.4-kWh battery exposed, emphasizing the bike's
The SR/F is the product of three years of work, and more than a few design
tweaks. The team worked in scale models and clay before settling on the
With the design set, Zero's test team took prototypes to Death Valley for
some hot weather testing—this rider's backpack is jammed with sensors
tracking the bike's performance
“Kickstand is now up,” one of the 20 or so engineers and designers calls out
in the design studio. “OK,” a few respond in near unison. Half of them are
holding their phones in the air, pointed at the half-finished motorcycle
that’s standing on a lift table like an equestrian statue on a pedestal.
Another engineer flips the red switch on the handlebars, then moves his hand
onto the throttle and twists. Just a touch at first, then properly. With a
whine, the rear wheel, suspended in the air, transforms into a blur of black
rubber. The room whoops and claps. It’s September 2017, and the men and
women of Zero Motorcycles have spent a year and a half getting to this
point, to finally see their all-new, fully electric bike work its motor and
After another year and a half of work, the SR/F, Zero’s first significantly
new offering in years, is making its debut—and just in time. Zero has led
the nascent electric motorcycle market over the past decade, but now bigger
players are moving into its territory. Harley-Davidson is taking preorders
for its battery-powered LiveWire. Ducati’s CEO says “the future is
electric.” Kawasaki has patents that indicate a similar worldview.
Zero is the Tesla of the motorcycle world: It’s smaller and younger than the
established manufacturers, but with more relevant experience. “We’re a very
old electric vehicle company,” says CEO Sam Paschel. “This [new] generation
allows us to create a gap again.”
Based on the specs, that gap could be sizable. Beyond the range—110
miles—Harley hasn't released final specs for the LiveWire yet, but the last
numbers it released, for a 2014 prototype of the bike, cited 74 horsepower
and 54 pound-feet of torque. Zero’s SR/F wallops that, with 110 horsepower,
140 pound-feet of torque, a 120 mph top speed, and 161 miles of range. A
Harley rep says the production LiveWire will have a new motor and battery,
though, so don't expect those early numbers to stay where they are. The
Harley will be about $10,000 more expensive than the SR/F, which starts at
Zero, whose 200 employees are all based in woodsy Scotts Valley, just inland
of Santa Cruz, California, started official work on the SR/F three years
ago. According to engineer Matt Bentley, though, the team has been thinking
about it for closer to five, stockpiling ideas for improvements they
couldn’t fit into the company's existing line of bikes. This entirely new
model gave Zero the chance to put everything they’d thought of to use, or at
least to try it out.
From the start, staffers in the design studio, with a floor specked with
bits of modeling clay, wanted to emphasize the electric setup that makes the
streetfighter-style SR/F whir. Sure, they could have dressed up the battery
to resemble an engine for a more conventional look. But Bentley says, in a
not entirely joking dramatic tone, “We would not commit this crime.”
Starting with scale models before moving onto clay, they left the battery
exposed and central; it makes up the bulk of the bike’s visible mass. It’s
the same size, 14.4 kilowatt-hours, as those on Zero’s other bikes, but with
a new and more efficient design.
If you want more power, you can pay extra for an additional “power tank”
that bumps range by 25 percent. Paschel expects more buyers to go for the
optional extra-fast charging solution. That, combined with the 6-kilowatt
system that comes with the premium version of the bike, lets you charge the
battery from 0 to 95 percent in an hour. (The premium version, which starts
at $20,995, also includes heated handlebars.)
The air-cooled, copper-colored motor, which is bigger and generates more
torque than its predecessor, sits behind the battery. It and everything else
on the bike are controlled by the latest iteration of Zero’s software, which
it calls Cypher III. Like most electric bikes and modern cars, it offers
different ride modes that adjust the rate of acceleration and traction
control. Here, you get Sport (pretty much full power), Street (75 percent of
that), Rain (which cuts the torque in half), and Custom (whatever you like).
And because it’s 2019, that software will allow for over-the-air updates, as
Zero continues to improve the code that turns throttle twists and brake
grabs into movement. Because electric vehicles don’t need transmissions,
Zero riders don’t have to worry about grabbing a clutch or flicking their
left foot up and down to change gears. That makes for an easier experience,
says Brian Wismann, Zero’s head of product. While old-school riders may
pooh-pooh the lack of skill, Wismann says more riders can get more out of
this bike. “They just have to know how to do this,” he says, miming the
twist of a throttle. And like many new cars, the SR/F comes with a dedicated
app, so owners can track and share their rides, and get alerts if their bike
falls over or starts moving while they’re at lunch.
The 485-pound SR/F gets an LED headlight and brake lights, along with a
center screen. Since riders wear gloves anyway, the team skipped a touch
screen and focused on making the thing visible in direct sunlight and hardy
enough to withstand the elements. Thinking ahead to production, the team
designed a wiring harness that’s easier to install. In the factory—adjoining
Zero’s design and office space—the production team is tracking how long it
takes them to build each part of the bike, and working to drive those times
down. They subject every battery they produce to a brutal hosing, making
sure no bikes suffer when the rain starts falling. And this is after
torturing the bike in places like Death Valley, where the air got so hot the
team had to put their GoPros on ice to keep them running.
The goal of all this is to put Zero back ahead of the electric motorcycle
market, but Paschel doesn’t expect to stop anytime soon. The core of the
SR/F will likely be the basis of new models to come, and the team’s already
storing away fresh ideas for the next ground-up redesign.
Of course, not everything on the SR/F is new; the bike shares some key
components with Zero’s existing products. Those would be the pegs, turn
signals, and mirrors. Some classics are better left alone. Everything else,
though, is up for grabs.
Texaco retrofitting stations with electric chargers
February 24, 2019 ... “We sell energy, so if the energy to be sold is
electricity, we will sell that. You will have a charger that can charge a
car in 25 minutes. Usually, a car is charged at home for eight hours, but
you can come to our service station and charge for 25 minutes and the price
that people will pay at the service stations depends on the demand ...
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